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Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by bassbloke, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. bassbloke


    Feb 26, 2002
    The recent metronome debate over at the Michael Manring/Steve Lawson forum has me motivated to start doing more metronome work. I do currently work with electronic time keeping devices (Band in a Box, drum machine) but I haven't worked much with a metronome recently and even when I did it wasn't very imaginative stuff (learn the part, learn to play it with the 'nome at the "correct" tempo, learn to play it with the 'nome set 10 or 15% faster so that I was still comfortable if the drummer played the song faster). Nowadays I tend to transcribe the drum part, programme it into the drum machine, and play along with that instead.

    What exercises do people recommend for metronome work?
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Set the metronome for just 2 & 4. Play tunes.
    Then just 4.
    Then just 2.

    Try it. It's truly worthwhile.
  3. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I like removing the "crutch" all together now and then. My 'nome, like most, can switch the sound completely off and only gives a blinking light. Much more difficult to keep up with but it's nice to feel it when you're "feeling" and grooving with the beat instead of playing along with it when you look away from it and look back to see how close you are. IMO, feels like the first time you learn to tread water. Look ma! No hands! :D

    I still abide by what Sam says above while doing it too. But you still need practice with just the 2 & 4 on so that you get the nice pulsing feeling before you totally go warm (as opposed to cold) turkey.
  4. jcbassomatic

    jcbassomatic Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    Amen to that...

    When you get the stuff under your fingers, the next step is to hone your 'time feel' (where you place notes relative to the beat). Sometimes things sound good a touch ahead of the beat, sometimes behind, sometimes right on. The trick is to learn to do this automatically without having to think about it too much.

    Here's what a teacher suggested and it works for me.

    - record yourself playing the piece with a metronome and listen to it (repeat til comfortable)
    - play again and try to be a little ahead of the beat listen (repeat til comfortable)
    - play again and try to set behind the beat (repeat til comfortable)
    - if you have trouble sitting ahead of the beat practice with nome on 1 and 3, if you have trouble sitting behind the beat practice with the nome on 2 and 4
    - rinse and repeat
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I always hate to try to describe this on the web, cause it really needs to be worked on with a teacher and very slowly to make sure you have a firm foundation before moving on to the next exercise.
    First let me say that I think working with a nome is more valuable than working with a drum machine (unless you set the drum machine just to play on 2 and 4 or all quarters). The reason it's "more interesting" to work with a Dm than a nome is precisely what's kind of bad about it. With a nome you only have your improvised line to move the tune forward. You become much more aware of how note choice (and not just rhythm) affects the harmonic propulsion of a tune.

    Anyway, you put the nome so 60bpm=quarternote and, after using the REALLY LEARNING A TUNE (meldoy and chord line) you start improvising with the following parameters.
    A. 1 chorus melody, 1 chorus "chord line", improvise 1 chorus of half notes (trying to maintain the sense of melody rather than accompaniment) , 1 chorus of melody
    B. 1 chorus melody, 1 chorus in the following manner - for each 8 bar section play the melody for the first three bars, then improvised half note line for the other 5 bars, 1 chorus melody
    C. 1 chorus melody, 1 chorus in the following manner - for each 8 bar section, play 3 bars of melody in a different place for each section. In other words if you play the melody for the first 3 bars of the first 8 bar section, you MAY NOT play the melody in the first three bars of any other 8 bar section. Clear? You improvise the other 5 bars in half notes.
    D. 1 chorus melody, 1 chorus in the following manner - improvise half note lines with rests. The number of beats in a rest should roughly equal the number of bars improvised in half notes.

    Then you go through B to D and start changing the rhythmic unit of improvised line -
    1.from half notes to quarter notes
    2.from quarter notes to "no accent" 8th notes
    3. to "accent 1" 8th notes accenting the first note of each group of 4 (1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 &
    4.to "accent 2" 8th notes (1 &2 & etc
    5. to accent 3 8th notes
    6. to accent 4 8th notes
    7. to no accent triplets
    8. to accent 1 triplets
    9. to accent 2 triplets
    10. to accent 3 triplets
    11. to no accent 16th notes
    12. you know the drill - accent 1 through accent 4 16th notes

    By the end of this you should be able to take an improvised line and start it anywhere in the bar, end it anywhere in the bar, with any accent/phrasing you want. You also get the visceral feeling of what improvising against a constant feels like. You couple these with exercises where you just turn on the nome and blow through tunes, you really start solidifying your time feel in a physical way, you start hearing time as a steady stream that you can drop your line in and out of at YOUR will. Rather than something that you've got to hang on to for dear life.

    I keep the click on when working on arpeggiation exercises, scale work, melodic fragments as well.
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Make the metronome swing.

    The best practice, methinks, is to record everything you do. As far as timefeel, swing without the clock, and then with, then without, etc, etc, etc. Just a coule of weeks with the recorder will straighten you out in a big hurry.

    And by 'swing', I more literally mean 'make it feel good'. This covers all of your styles.
  7. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I'm completely onboard w/Sam's "just 2 or just 4" thing. Because of this I feel it's important to have a nome (or other clock source) that goes lower than 40 bpm to be able to play those slower tempos with only one click on 2 or 4. Most of the dial nomes I've owned/seen only go down to 40.

  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    The 'nome is the best kept secret in the musician's circle. I wish people would quit saying the metronome is worthwhile and make it harder for me to get a gig...
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I think the metronome is dangerously over-rated.

    It IS an important tool for certain things, but too many students develop a laziness toward timefeel and dependence on the thing that lasts well into adulthood, if the dependence is ever overcome at all. Practicing with the metronome should be considered just one tool in your practice arsenal, not THE tool.
  10. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    +1. It's nothing but a crutch, albeit a useful one. Dependence on any crutch is bad. I like Ed's idea that a 'nome also reinforces you to play a strong line since you don't have anything to support you other than your own playing. IMO, focusing on getting the feel/swing is where it's at.

    The one thing I did like about my piano lessons from an early age was that my teachers encouraged me not to rely on a metronome. Practicing with it constantly was discouraged but allowed when my time was bad. So when I went into playing hand percussion in a brazilian-style bateria, I already had strong "time muscles". I just needed to hone in on the feel of being on, ahead, or behind and not struggled to find where the center of the beat was. Doing percussion even helped me swing it even more. However, playing percussion in that situation wasn't like playing against a 'nome. You just needed one or two guys to drag or rush a little and it would throw you off before you knew it.

    I'll have to try recording my sh!t... that's always done wonders when I tried it learning other instruments.
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    So, Brother Ray, binst du ein Berliner?

    Just as an aside, JFK's remark "Ich bin ein Berliner" was alledgedly met with amusement by the local populace, since colloquially a "Berliner" was a kind of donut.
  12. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    From what I heard, a jelly donut at that.

    Mmm.... donut. :p
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I just learned this the other day. Seriously funny poo.

    I at a loss for the connection, though.
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    ...in person at one of your clinics, right?
  15. Back on track (sort of).

    One of my bands is really pushing me to rush the beat on uptempo tunes. I am having a problem with this since when I try to rush I usually drop back to the beat within a measure or two. It just feels very unnatural to be ahead of everyone and I worry about getting too far ahead. Is there a good way to practice rushing? I work with a 'nome and a binab drum track.
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Don't rush, but rather make it feel light/aggressive/driving -- whatever it's supposed to feel like.
  17. jcbassomatic

    jcbassomatic Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    yep - see #4 above. BTW, I hate this. I know a lot of folks like bass to be way out in front of everyone, but I don't think it sounds very good and it sure doesn't feel very good when you're trying to play it. Whatever, if people want it, I got to figure out how to do it, thus #4...


    one other thing - one of my teachers called it awake and sleepy, not ahead or behind. Associating the time feel with a feeling helps keep things from getting to far behind or ahead - ie, there's a difference between being awake and being on crack or being sleepy and being comatose.
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    DURRL and I are referring to the Jeff Berlin attributed remarks over in Steve and Mike's ASK THE PROS section. Lots of good, clean fun.

    In a further attempt to derail, there's an ad campaign going on in the subways for something that has the big bold banner above the small type that says


    I always assumed it was for some sort of drummer's convention.
  19. I think this is the way they see it--especially the driving part. Easier said than done for--at least for me.
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    My teacher uses a basketball analogy, the feeling you get when you are dribbling and driving the ball forward - light, controlled, precise - rather than trying to pound the ball into the ground.